More and more people across the world are adopting the core precepts of the Vedic age, many without even having come across the term. While meat (including those forms now banned for human consumption in India) was indeed consumed during that period, increasingly a vegetarian diet was regarded as giving the individual a better chance at reflection and in harmony of thought. During even the 1980s, it was difficult to come across a vegetarian in Europe or in North America, but today every city has its cluster of vegetarians, many of whom follow the more restrictive diet of vegans. Restaurants that serve at least some vegetarian cuisine have been plentiful in the US or the UK since the 1980s, and these days can even be found in locations where the eating of meat is commonplace, such as Russia and Korea. Millions of enthusiasts have taken to Yoga, a gift of India to the world that has been extensively popularised by Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi. Schoolchildren are learning Sanskrit in countries across Europe, including Germany and the UK, and are discovering the advantages of a knowledge of the complex grammar of that ancient mother lode of human civilisation in this age of computer software and Artificial Intelligence. The traditional dance forms of India are being adapted and adopted across the world, including by a few in the remote fastnesses of Iceland. And this is as it should be, for the concept of Sanatan Dharma, the Universal Faith, is that all paths to an understanding of divinity are of equal validity. That every path the seeker takes can lead him to his or her destination. It is but proper that India is the home of Sanatan Dharma, for the people of India have within their cultural DNA the triple helix strands of the Vedic, Mughal and the European age. The languages and cultures of each of the three course within the “blood of the mind” of every citizen, such that to attempt to differentiate a Hindu from a Muslim or a Christian is an exercise in the absurdity of futility. The Two Nation theory propagated with such unfortunate success by Winston Spencer Churchill and Muhammad Ali Jinnah is a chimera that ought never to have been allowed to wreak the havoc that it did, and which it still strives to do. If Kashmir has yet to be in a tranquil state seven decades and more after India gained her freedom, the primary reason is the pernicious effect of the Two Nation theory, that was kept going by Article 370. Pakistan was founded on the excuse of the Two Nation theory, and very soon the “Two Nations” became West and East Pakistan, the latter winning its freedom from the serfdom imposed on it by the Pakistan army. These days, there are more than just two nations in Pakistan, for the Pashtuns and the Baloch, not to mention the Sindhis, are chafing under the yoke of the Wahabbis among the Punjabis who rule Pakistan through their death grip over the Pakistan military.
A citizen of India has a father who works in a shelter for cows in Rajasthan, and who sings bhajans regularly. Brought up in such tolerant surroundings in a manner reminiscent of the upbringing of Avul Pakkir Jainulabedin Abdul Kalam, it was no surprise that Feroz Khan acquired a taste for Sanskrit and for Hindu theology, and over the years developed substantial expertise in both. Many an evening, he would have wandered over to the Sree Ramdev Gaushala, 30 kilometres from Jaipur. There he would have listened as his father Ramzan Khan joined in the aarti, strumming on his harmonium while singing a devotional song. Ramzan Khan is a devout Muslim, as his is his. However, unlike those who go by the precepts taught by Abdel Wahab rather than revealed to mankind in the Quran, the Khan family have the moderate and modern culture that is the bedrock of all communities in India, including Muslims and Hindus. While fanatic maulanas and mullahs who ignore the message of peace in the Quran would have been angered, both father and son showed in practice what Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat of the RSS has enjoined, which is to rejoice in the common cultural and other DNA of Bharat Mata. His father himself being a Sanskrit shastri, it was no surprise that Feroz beat all others applicants and won the place of Professor at the Benaras Hindu University (BHU). He is an example to those tempted to follow the path of Aurangzeb rather than that of Akbar or Jehangir, a role model for not just Muslims but for all citizens of India. It is therefore inexplicable that some individuals are objecting to the appointment and demanding that “only a Hindu” be appointed to the post. Should only a Muslim learn Urdu, a language where some of the greatest poets and writers are Hindu? Should only a Christian study the English language, that invaluable aid to overpowering the competition offered by other nationalities in the global marketplace? For that matter, should only Christians use those implements that have been discovered by them (such as the steam engine or electricity) and only Jews make use of the vast trove of inventions by the members of this immensely gifted although small in number community? Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Adityanath need to intervene posthaste to ensure that a gifted son of India, a citizen who exemplifies the tolerance and moderation that should be present in all of us, begins his duties at BHU. There is no doubt that Professor Khan’s students will welcome such a move by the PM and the CM.